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That Time I Talked to Jermaine Dupri About Internet Journalism By @refinedhype

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The interwebs are a surreal place. If you had told me on Monday that I’d soon be talking on the phone to Jermaine Dupri, a man who played an instrumental role in literally some of 

, I couldn’t have possibly guessed the sequence of events that lead from my typing to that Atlanta area code popping up on my phone.

I won’t rehash the whole story (you can get caught up here), but instead of only updating that previous article with where it might get overlooked, and Jermaine* might not get his proper credit for caring enough to reach out, I wanted to give our conversation its own place.

I’m not going to put words into his mouth – I’d love to get him on the podcast, or on ”3 Shots” where he can speak for himself, and I can ask him the four million other questions I have about his career - but I do feel comfortable saying he felt like he was doing me a favor by highlighting my work, and certainly didn’t mean any harm. I believe him; from the beginning I didn’t think he was being malicious, and was genuinely glad he connected with the article. In fact, one of the main reasons he wanted to share it was because I mentioned the overdose of Chris Kelly (of Kriss Kross), who I had forgotten was his artist. That’s powerful.

Really, the confusion between us stems from the increasinly hazy definitions of just what is “theft” in the digital age, when the very same “share this!” ethos artists use to make their living can so easily spiral from their control, and almost always inevitably does. Jermaine seemed to think that re-posting an article in full was “fair game”, really no different than embedding a tweet or a YouTube video, and judging by the comments and tweets I’ve gotten over the last day, he’s far from alone in his thinking. On the flip side, as someone who feeds his family solely from that “fair game” that can be a frightening attitude to know people have, and I know I’m not alone in how I feel either.

Frankly, I’m not really sure how to end this article, but maybe that’s only right. If I used this experience as a platform to only air my personal complaints, what a fucking waste. Instead, my goal was to kick off a conversation about the value of all things digital in 2014, and that’s a conversation that will never come to any neat conclusion. The internet is an impossibly tangled place where artists stream their own leaked albumscomedians sell movies they made decades ago, and rap writers see their work go viral.

It’s impossible to live in this interwebs world without crashing into all sorts of grey areas, and I genuinely appreciate Jermaine Dupri for not only seeking me out, but being willing to have an open conversation about those grey areas. I think he understands a little better the perspective of writer, and I understand better where he’s coming from as well. For him there’s a big difference between a professional site and what he considers his personal blog, and in some ways he’s right. (Sorry beef eaters, there’s just no animosity between us.)

I don’t know how this story will play out. Jermaine and I might continue this conversation further on the phone, I might someday be getting fucked up with him on a Tuesday night at the Velvet Room, or this could be the end of the road. Regardless, hopefully some small amount of good has come from all this. At the very least I’ve now actually spoken to the man who produced one of thebiggets hit singles of all-time, and I won’t front, that’s pretty awesome.

Baring another unforeseen major turn of events, I won’t keep hammering this storyline, this will be the last I write about it. Respect to everyone who has joined in, and will join in, on the conversation. Just another day on the interwebs, the place where all things are possible.

* For the record, I totally called him Jermaine because he called me Nathan, and so Jermaine seemed like the move. Dupri would have been weird, I guess I could have called him JD? I think Jermaine was the right move, I’m sticking to it.

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